A horse’s perfect day is probably spent grazing out in the field.
However, there are some dangers associated with grazing that could be very harmful to your horse, including buttercups.
Many people are unaware that buttercups are toxic to horses and other livestock. The leaves and stems of buttercups contain ranunculin, which forms the toxic blistering agent when they are crushed or chewed.
If a horse spends the afternoon grazing on buttercups, his lips and facial tissue may swell and blister; the oils of the buttercup stems and leaves will line the horse’s digestive tract and can result in bloody diarrhea. In fact, severe cases of heightened ingestion can cause paralysis and convulsions, and even death.
Though the buttercup plant is common in most of North America, especially in wooded areas, horses often avoid grazing on it. Most horses don’t like the bitter taste of the leaves so they will graze on other things in the field before starting in on the buttercups.
It’s important, though, to make sure that there’s plenty of other food available in the pasture. If buttercups are the only plant around, your horse may be tempted to snack on it rather than grazing on nothing at all.
You can prevent buttercup growth in your fields by using herbicides, but Equus says that in extreme cases when buttercups have become aggressive and are encroaching on other plants, you may need to till and sow new grass seed entirely.
If you keep an eye on your pasture, and make sure that your horse has plenty of other food to snack on, buttercups don’t have to be a danger to your horse.
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